After the disappointment of cancelling Thomas, our following event - Polish Day - was a great success. We had a number of Polish delicacies on offer and thanks are due to all who helped to make this a great day, even overcoming the problem of not having 'Karel' ready for the event.
Teddy Bears Picnic was a similar success, once again through people's dedication and hard work. Thanks to a number of generous donations from individuals and companies - plus his own dedication - John Smith raised over £800 towards the 'Babe' Appeal.
Doris - The kitchen in 'Doris' was in need of a face-lift and these works are now complete. Many thanks are due to David Burton and his crew, as well as John Payne, for stripping out the old cooker and surround, then turning Doris into a professional Kitchen Carriage fit for the largest catering needs.
Photo - Tony Wray.
Beer Festival - Although not officially confirmed, a Beer Festival is planned for October and will take place on the weekend of the 9th and 10th. Volunteers and helpers would be required to help in various ways so, if you feel you can assist, please contact David or Aaron. This weekend would be rounded off with a members' BBQ and private beer tasting session. Admission will be by ticket only, with the aim of offering working and non-working members an opportunity to sample the 16 different beers available on that weekend. Tickets go on sale at the start of September at a price of £10 - which includes food and beers. Please from an orderly queue and no fighting at the back! If anyone feels they could advertise the festival at work or at their club, local shop etc., posters and leaflets will be available from September.
The catering team would just like to mention that sales are up, up, up and the hard work of the team is fast causing the buffet to outgrow itself. With the high usage there is for the equipment we use, members are asked not to take any equipment out of the buffet. The equipment is for food use only, but we are experiencing items going missing.
The many conversations and ideas about a new restaurant and toilet block are now much more than a pipe dream. Planning for this is well under way and we'll keep you updated on the progress.
Compared to the same period last year the buffet is considerably more active. There is now a solid core of regulars, comprising a wide range from the early retired to shift workers, and cyclists to passing motorists. One new group which might be returning is a party from a Pensioners Lunch Club who tour different venues each week. Coffee and walnut cake still heads the Sweet Tooth Top 20 and, not surprisingly, hot food is the most popular lunchtime request though during the depths of the recent cold weather, one customer did come in and ask for 20 Ice Pops!!!!!!
With future planning now including the possibility of a new Buffet, Gary has been musing on the type of catering facility which would suit the railway. He feels that a room that would seat 30 to 40 customers would be ideal as it would open up opportunities for a wider choice of food and clientele. Whilst not expecting to leap forwards to Michelin Star status (well, not immediately anyway), the possibility of a wider and slightly more adventurous menu would help to attract more regulars as well as groups looking for a place to visit for morning coffee or afternoon tea and cakes.
2003 has drawn to a close and its now time to take stock of the year, and start preparing for 2004.
With the unseasonably warm weather, midweek trade has been fairly brisk through the winter months. The Thomas weekend, which traditionally brings the season to a close, was the best ever, during which the buffet sold over one third of a ton of chips and not just to the loco crews!
Like all other departments, the buffet was somewhat overwhelmed at times during the Santa Specials. However Robbie and Gary and a small army of helpers coped admirably , always managing to have a smile and a welcome for their customers.
Several group bookings are already in the diary for 2004 and, because of this increasing level of trade, the Buffet is now looking at staffing levels. If there is anyone who would like to help out during the coming year, either on the train or in the buffet, please contact either Gary or Robbie.
As most of the working members know, the buffet has had a re-fit, this was spurred on by the impending visit of the councils envjromental health visitor. It was decided that more working surfaces were required, the lay-out of the preperation and cooking area needed replanning with increased storage space thrown in as well. A general plan was worked out with all the interested parties involved. It was decided to move the cooker, this would need the double sink and the front counter to be moved, also the fryers and chip scuttle required moving from their position in the window.
A decision was taken to close the buffet for at least two week-ends during late January early February. Dave Burton and co. moved in, and for a while just about everything that was fixed was removed either to be put back later or disposed of.
New floor cupboards were fitted under the sink and under new worktops, the tops being at a level height alround for ease of working and cleaning. The wall cupboards were swopped about to make them more useful, under which a hob has been fitted over the fryers to help keep the grease at bay. All this moving of electrical equipment meant that a major re-wire was required, this was duly arranged by Chris Moxeiam using an electrical contractor to supply and fit as required. As can be seen when you enter the buffet, a great amount of the food preperation area has been tiled out, again making the cleaning of this a lot easier and quicker before you go home. The buffet feels larger and this is mainly due to the removal of the lower wood trim and a lot of thought on the painting scheme? The painting was mainly done by John Smith, also the replacement of the ageing ceiling light fittings with much brighter twin flourescent fittings (the wearing of dark glasses will aide you when picking from the choice of homemade cakes).
The work actually took longer than envisaged with the small odd jobs being done around opening days. After receiving a phone call from Sally Ayers in late March, a date was arranged for April 4th for the belated inspection. The saying that first impressions mean a lot seems to apply, as Sally Ayers seemed most surprised at the changes we have done since the last inspection. She believed that due to the age of the building we would not be in a position to obtain a food safety award. It was with great delight and surprise that when taking all into account, including the toilets onsite, we had actually managed to get 10 As allowing us to get this award, which is not handed out freely . This is a great achievement by all so I would like to say a big thank you to everyone involved.
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